Angra do Heroismo, Terceira
38:39.105N 27:12.886W Wed 27th June 2018. 69nm 11h15mins
After a terrific time here, we headed for the island of Terceira as our flight to the UK leaves from the airport here. We left Horta really early as the forecast indicated we’d have a very slow downwind sail at best. For once they were right, at the start anyway, when we had very little wind coming from behind us. After 3 hours motoring I felt we had to have a go at sailing and put the genoa out plus our huge red gennaker held out on spinnaker pole and boom respectively – a big scale goosewinged effect that really captures the light airs. Indeed, we were making nearly 5 knots in only 6-7 knots of true wind, which is pretty impressive, as well as looking rather gorgeous! Once we got around the end of the next island (Sao Jorge) the wind picked up and we had a fast beam reach for the rest of the way (fast = 9.9kts max according to the instruments).
The highlight of the day for Lindsay was when a tuna as big as a small dolphin burst out of the sea just by the stern of the boat and then did 5 leaps clear of the water, smashing back down with a twist each time. I guess Goldcrest gave it a big fright.
As we entered Angra’s harbour, heading for its tiny marina, we were hailed on the radio by a fellow OCC member at anchor which rather put me off my stride (just as we were manoeuvring in). He wanted to warn us about the awful surge in the little marina, but what he should have added was that there was no room due to all the visitors during the local fiesta. Undeterred (and confused) we entered anyway, coped with a dreadful surge and ended up moored on the concrete dock of the old harbour. It wasn’t too bad, apart from the noise, and we were able to move into the marina the next day. It is definitely the most surge prone marina we’ve ever been in, even in these very settled conditions. The big 57 footer next to us seems not to have worked out how to cope and is surging back and forth making the most awful creaking and squeaking noises 24 hrs a day. We’ve got stretchy ropes, fender covers (all but one which we lost on the 1st night) and cloths tied round every rope which rubs against the boat, so we’re relatively quiet, despite the movements.
A view over the town with the Sao Joao Batista fort and Monte Brasil in the background
Angra do Heroismo has one of the best natural harbours in the Azores and was a very important stopover for ships from the New World. It was also a target for attacks by pirates and other nations and hence has two forts protecting the port. The larger of these still has a military presence, but also lovely landscaped parkland and great views over the town. It is a UNESCO World Heritage city and just gorgeous. It’s distinctive Portuguese Renaissance architecture is so attractive and well preserved despite regular earthquake damage. Our first night here, we walked into town to find the whole place decorated for the week-long festival of St. John and most of the inhabitants out on the streets to watch the processions or sit in the many pop-up bars and cafes. We stood on the main street and watched a parade of several groups of folk singers and dancers, dressed in traditional costume and a pantomime style enactment of the local custom of taunting a roped bull. This last seems to be a very popular event everywhere on the island, but at least the poor bull is only tired out, not killed by the action. One of these “touradas da corda” takes place in the harbour area tomorrow afternoon, so we may get to see what it is really like!
One of the folkloric groups